November 18th, 2008

Jonestown reflections: 30 years later

The other evening I turned on the TV and came across this CNN documentary entitled “Escape from Jonestown.” I watched for the next two hours, because to my surprise it turned out to be riveting.

Even though I recall Jonestown well and thought I remembered most of the salient facts about it, there was still much more to learn. The story contains facts of tragic relevance even today, November 18, 2008, which is the thirtieth anniversary of that terrible mass suicide.

We call it a mass suicide because the evidence (and there is plenty of it, including an audiotape of the horrendous proceedings) indicates that many of Jones’ followers cooperated in their own deaths. In fact, the term “drink the Kool Aid” derives from that fact.

But what most people don’t know is the extent of the psychological and physical pressure that was placed on these people from the moment they entered the cult, as well as the fact that fully one-third of the nearly one thousand who died there were children who could hardly be said to have freely cooperated. There is also forensic evidence that those adults who did protest or try to escape were forcibly injected with cyanide as they attempted to flee.

So I prefer to call it a suicide/massacre. That places most of the blame where it belongs, on Jim Jones himself.

The first relevant lesson to be learned is the danger of blindly following a charismatic leader. Jones became more deranged later on, but as his congregation grew in the 60s and 70s, he was a respected member of the San Francisco community, with connections to Democratic politicians (I’m not sure there’s any other kind in San Francisco) and a strong reputation for racial equality.

The second lesson is to beware of the trust that gullible and trusting human beings can place in that charismatic leader. Jones required that people give over their lives and their assets when they became followers—a danger sign. Members had varied reasons for joining, but it can probably be safely said that most of them were exceedingly idealistic. According to the testimony of many of the survivors (a small group, but an articulate one), once they realized the true character of the man in whom they’d placed such hope and faith, it was too late. They were in a prison, subject to various forms of physical and psychological torture in Jones’ attempt to control the inmates. And in the final year before the terrible end, the prison we know as Jonestown was at least as isolated as Alcatraz, because it was located in the heart of the Guyanese jungle.

Two forms the psychological torture/indoctrination took are especially instructive. The first is that as Jones became increasingly paranoid, he regularly harangued his followers that they would be under attack soon, either from the CIA or the Guyanese authorities, and that mass suicide would be the only way out. In fact, he had many rehearsals for the killings, which had the effect of getting people used to what would be happening and more ready to accept it, as well as more doubtful when the real thing began to happen that it actually was the real thing; maybe it was another rehearsal?

The second was a particular type of psychological coercion described in Deborah Layton’s very fine and highly recommended book Seductive Poison. I am describing this from memory (I read the book many years ago), but my recollection is that they were encouraged to inform on each other if they heard anyone complain about or criticize Jones or Jonestown. The tattler was then publicly praised, while the complainer was subject to public harangues, physical punishment, withdrawal of privileges, and ostracism. In a totally controlled environment, this was especially difficult to take, even for those with strong personalities.

What was even more terrible—and diabolical—was the fact that Jones made some of his close confederates pretend to be be discontented, confiding their criticism of Jones and Jonestown to others. The listeners had no idea that these were false “confessions.” If they listened sympathetically and perhaps shared their own discontent, they were reported and punished. But worse, if they failed to report the confidences of their “friends”—who were actually, unbeknownst to them, Jim Jones plants—then they were punished as well.

The entire system encouraged extreme distrust of sharing any complaints with or confiding in anyone. Therefore no mass rebellion or escape plans could be hatched. A resident never knew who was telling the truth, or who would go straight to Jones with the news. Even those who hated Jones and Jonestown had to wrestle with their consciences about whether to report on a friend; the consequences for failure to do so could be dire.

I doubt that even the KGB or the Stasi were quite as able to control all aspects of their subjects’ personal lives as Jones was. I mention the latter two organizations because it is not insignificant that Jim Jones was a Socialist/Communist, who greatly admired Cuba and the USSR. This little fact had escaped my memory as well, but it takes on a greater significance in retrospect. It is, quite simply, no accident.

One of the things Jones had been planning and contemplating in his last year was a possible mass exodus to the Soviet Union. He also instructed the Temple’s money to be left to the Soviet Union. Some of the dead left handwritten notes to that effect as well.

Watching the CNN documentary and hearing the survivors’ tell their fascinating stories, it became clear that they (like Deborah Layton) are hardly lacking in brainpower. This is the next lesson: intelligence has nothing to do with it. If these people were susceptible (and they were), it was not because they were not smart. It was because they were insufficiently skeptical of a charismatic demagogue, and of the limits of idealism.

Another lesson is how connected many on the Left were to Jones’ movement. Angela Davis and Huey Newton were involved, for example, in the rehearsals for suicide:

[Jones] set up a false sniper attack upon himself and begin his first series of White Nights, called the “Six Day Siege”, where Jones spoke to Temple members about attacks from outsiders and had them surround Jonestown with guns and machetes. The fiery rallies took an almost surreal tone as Angela Davis and Huey Newton communicated via radio-telephone to the Jonestown crowd, urging them to hold strong against the “conspiracy.”

Mark Lane, the Kennedy assassination conspiricist, was also quite influential as Jones’ lawyer, which I also hadn’t before realized. He helped fan the flames of paranoia:

In 1978, Lane began to represent the Peoples Temple. Temple leader Jim Jones hired Lane and Donald Freed to help make the case of what it alleged to be a “grand conspiracy” by intelligence agencies against the Peoples Temple…

In September of 1978, Lane visited Jonestown, spoke to Jonestown residents, provided support for the theory that intelligence agencies conspired against Jonestown and drew parallels between Martin Luther King and Jim Jones. Lane then held press conferences stating that “none of the charges” against the Temple “are accurate or true” and that there was a “massive conspiracy” against the Temple by “intelligence organizations,” naming the CIA, FBI, FCC and the U.S. Post Office. Though Lane represented himself as disinterested, the Temple paid Lane $6,000 per month to help generate such theories….Lane later wrote a book about Jonestown that repeated his paranoia about CIA involvement, parroting the Jones party line.

Another important lesson that’s also forgotten is that Ryan and his entourage, including the reporters, seem to have been fooled by Jones and Jonestown. This has happened time and again in history, when people go to investigate a controlled environment. Although Ryan, his aides, and the reporters who went with them (almost all of whom were killed by Jones) are to be commended for their heroism and are deeply mourned, they also showed naivete in failing to understand the total control Jones had over his flock, and the depths of his evil. The extent of true evil, and the techniques it can use to coerce and silence, can be difficult for the good to understand:

Before leaving Jonestown for the airstrip, Congressman Ryan had told Temple attorney Charles Garry that he would issue a report that would describe Jonestown “in basically good terms.” Ryan stated that none of the sixty relatives Ryan had targeted for interviews wanted to leave, the 14 defectors constituted a very small portion of Jonestown’s residents, that any sense of imprisonment the defectors had was likely because of peer pressure and a lack of physical transportation, and even if 200 of the 900+ wanted to leave “I’d still say you have a beautiful place here.” Similarly, Washington Post reporter Charles Krause stated that, on the way back to the airstrip, he was unconvinced that Jonestown was as bad as defectors had claimed because there were no signs of malnutrition or physical abuse, while many members appeared to enjoy Jonestown and only a small number of the over 900 residents elected to leave.

It is tempting to think “it couldn’t happen to me.” We all like to think of ourselves as strong, both psychologically and physically. I have very little doubt, for example, that I would never join such a group in the first place. But I can see how anyone would be vulnerable once placed in that environment, with no way out.

I hope and trust I could resist, even then. But extreme isolation, brainwashing to stir up paranoia, constant rehearsal for death, and the sort of coercion and control Layton describes to isolate each person and make him/her think there is no escape, could take an enormous toll. In the case of the Jonestown inhabitants, they were extreme idealists who had ceded a great deal of autonomy to a leader and a group at the outset. Very few of them had a chance.

The survivors are suffused with guilt, and continue to mourn every day of their lives. Time has not healed these wounds. Some of them still live in the San Francisco area, and those who do sometimes visit the site of the mass grave in Oakland, the final resting place of those who died at Jonestown whose bodies were never identified. Many of these were children.

This is a moment to remember them and all who died there, as well as the suffering survivors. We can honor them by attempting to learn the lessons of their lives and deaths:


76 Responses to “Jonestown reflections: 30 years later”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    “they were encouraged to inform on each other if they heard anyone complain about or criticize Jones or Jonestown.”

    Who says we still can’t learn from Chairman Mao? Who says the lessons are finished?

    Who says there’s no subtext to this text?

    Not moi.

  2. stumbley Says:

    From the Obama website, prior to the election:

    “The one thing most grandparents have in common is that they have the most wonderful grandchildren in the world – so clever, so handsome, so pretty, ever so precious. Even if you are still unsure of your path in life, and even if your parents and friends occasionally wonder about you, your grandma and grandpa love you and have faith in you.

    That is your weapon! “Precious” needs to get on the phone and say, “Grandpa, Grandma, I am asking you to vote for Barack Obama…

    When it comes to your family, you are Barack’s most effective advocate. There are less than two weeks left in this election. If you haven’t already talked to your family, now is the time.

    If you’ve already talked to your parents and grandparents about Barack and what’s at stake in this election, let us know how it went, and what advice you would offer fellow supporters who are thinking about having the talk themselves.”

    I like Grape, how about you?

  3. Occam's Beard Says:

    I’m sorry for the kids who died (because it wasn’t their choice to be there), neo, but I lived in the Bay Area all during the time the People’s Temple fluorished there, and through the time of the mass suicide, and my reaction was pretty much “nobody said natural selection was going to be pretty.” The People’s Temple adherents had slipped their moorings at least as much as contemporary Obamanauts.

  4. kcom Says:

    “they were encouraged to inform on each other if they heard anyone complain about or criticize Jones or Jonestown.”

    I bet those complaining had their DMV records searched, too. And their divorce records, child support records, tax records, etc., etc. It’s standard operating procedure, dontcha know.

  5. Scottie Says:

    “This is the next lesson: intelligence has nothing to do with it. If these people were susceptible (and they were), it was not because they were not smart. It was because they were insufficiently skeptical of a charismatic demagogue, and of the limits of idealism.”

    As I believe I noted in a comment section elsewhere on another topic – intelligence has little to do with education.

    BTW, if anybody’s pouring – I prefer lemonade to koolaid.

  6. nyomythus Says:

    It’s a relevant story for today; Obama is a politician NOT a messiah.

  7. dane Says:

    I heard someone say the other day they were in Wal-mart or K-Mart (pronounced Wal- Mahr and K-Mahr in finer circles used to shopping at French boutiques) buying some fishing lures and the guy in front of him was buying many, many boxes of ammo for a handgun. When asked what he was doing ammo man said,”Celebrating Obama’s election. I know hand gun sales are up substantially because many think that congress will move fairly quickly after Obama is sworn in to severely limit what kind of guns will be available.

    In keeping with the post I also find it disturbing that Obama stated in one of his speeches that there should be a civilian force equal in size and armaments to the military. Excuse me for not being to PC but I can see the drill instructor for the new recruits saying, “If anybody gives you any s**t just pop a cap in his ass.”

    I’ll take mine in Hawaiian punch please.

  8. dane Says:

    Oh – and in support of what I said people are afraid of re gun restrictions you might find this interesting.

  9. warbaby Says:

    Like Occam’s Beard, I lived in SF during that time; since I was rootless and looking for answers, I came across lots of people in the Temple as well as other cults. I’m skeptical of groups, so maybe that saved my a**.

    To me, SF felt like a long-sought safe harbor. The Guyana massacre and the riots after the shootings soon thereafter felt like the world was coming to an end, again. Horrible, and unforgettable.

    Oh yeah – I posted on the SF Chron website the other day re a story on the People’s Temple, making some of the points you make here. One of my respondents said “You just can’t understand. Obama listens to us.”

  10. FredHjr Says:

    One of the chilling facets of that whole drama is the fact that the Big Media did not then and do not now report that Jones was a Communist and his cult was a heavy dose of it. They called it a cult or refer to it as a cult of personality, but a cult of personality only works if you, as a participant, agree with the vision and ideas the man is espousing. Folks, there was a content to what Jones was uttering. He didn’t put these people in a trance.

  11. Mel Williams Says:

    Good ol’ horse sense is an increasing rare thing, since it’s needed less and less to do well in our society. Instead, we have mostly college educated people pulling the strings. They are perfectly rational and intelligent in the context of our modern society. But their narrowness is astounding.

    In my mind the thing that has been lost is the ability and courage to draw lines in the sand that are good for personal and societal development.

  12. Xan' Says:

    Wow, Neo writes a whole post about that nutball Jim Jones and it takes all of three comments to get a comparison to Obama. Who could’ve predicted such? Are the Hitler comparisons getting too trite?

  13. Uncle Jefe Says:

    Sorry, Xan’, if the shoe fits…
    If you don’t like the comparison of Jones to Obama, perhaps you can look at it from another point of view…
    The naivete of the Temple folks is much like the naivete of the obamites.
    You’ve already had your first sip.
    Enjoy the rest of the drink.

  14. warbaby Says:

    For anybody who wasn’t around in the ’70s, a stunning examination of cultish behavior, and the roots thereof, can be found in the work of the psychologist Alice Miller.
    Her first work, retitled The Drama of the Gifted Child, is itself sufficient cause for serious thought.

    This is an excellent, excellent essay, btw, and thank you for posting it.

  15. Occam's Beard Says:

    Interesting, warbaby. I had exactly the opposite reaction. Far from a safe harbor, SF (I’m from there originally) and the Bay Area generally seemed to me to have turned into a lunatic asylum. It was no longer the place I’d grown up in. With the Zodiac killings, the Panthers, the Hare Krishnas, the Moonies, Synanon, the SLA (I lived in Berkeley two blocks from Patty Hearst when she was kidnapped), Jonestown and what have you I began to wonder if there was something in the water supply.

    At least, that was my excuse for sticking to beer. /g

  16. stumbley Says:

    Xan, Mitsu and this poll remind me of the C.M. Kornbluth story “The Marching Morons”:

    “The story is set hundreds of years in the future: the date is 7-B-936. John Barlow, a man from the past put into suspended animation by a freak accident involving a dental drill and anesthesia, is revived in this future. The world seems mad to Barlow until Tinny-Peete explains the Problem of Population: Due to a combination of intelligent people prudently not having children and excessive breeding by less intelligent people, the world is full of morons, with the exception of an elite few who work slavishly to keep order.”

    Sort of a Trilateral Commission/Illuminati sort of thing…

  17. stumbley Says:

    …this essay (still thinking about the poll thread)…

  18. warbaby Says:


    I’m sure it must have been even more awful for a native; I’ve always been, and continue to be, envious of anyone who had the great good luck to grow up in the Bay Area. You’re right, of course, I can’t imagine the disappointment of seeing it deteriorate so badly and so fast in the ’60s and ’70s. (Imagine the places I’d been in the first 30 years of my life, that even this Chaos with Perfect Weather seemed vastly preferable.)

    I do remember seeing SF for about a week in the mid ’50s, and it seemed very Paradise. Coming into town with a backpack (the same week Patty Hearst was kidnapped) and nowhere to go back to felt like being reborn, in every way, and as if life was finally going to begin.

    Life goes on, eh? Good to hear your perspective, sincerely. Thanks.

  19. Uncle Jefe Says:

    I’m 5th generation San Franciscan.
    The City was a family-oriented, patriotic town before the 60’s.
    The arrival of the hippies/gays/counterculture changed The City and indeed all of California.
    For all of those who say how screwed up San Francisco and California are, I say take back all of the refuse you sent us in the 60’s and 70’s, and maybe we can take back our City and State.

  20. FredHjr Says:

    Uncle Jefe,

    We never exiled our Moonbats out of Boston. They went out there voluntarily. I feel for you, but it’s no fault of ours.

    I think the first step was that the Communists established themselves on the faculty at U.C. Berkeley. Then, they drew in like-minded people, and then the colonization process got underway in earnest. It has now taken on a life of its own.

  21. Occam's Beard Says:

    Uncle Jefe,

    Homeboy! /g

    I too remember all that, and when North Beach was Italian, and when The City was Democratic but in a pro-union kind of way.

    I recently came across a photo I’d taken from Nob Hill with my Brownie Hawkeye camera on a school field trip in the late 50s. The Ferry Building was the highest building in the picture.

    Kind of choked me up, to tell the truth.

  22. RKV Says:

    Uncle Jefe, Amen bro. Amen. Send the whole lot of them the hell out of my state and back to where they were bred. We don’t want or need them.

  23. Occam's Beard Says:

    RKV, I’m with you 100%. I keep hoping they’ll find a new chic destination.

    I hear Tierra del Fuego is lovely…

  24. Occam's Beard Says:

    The moonbat infestation in California raises an interesting moral dilemma: tolerance for rubbish generates more rubbish. Or, to put it another way, making provision for a problem guarantees the existence of the problem.

    SF tolerated homosexuals and eccentrics of various stripes, and while that was desirable, it led to homosexuals and assorted whackos moving there, which was not. Pretty soon the inmates had taken over the asylum, and what in other cirucmstances would have been a colorful adjunct to local society became the society. Then it wasn’t colorful at all, but then a civic nuisance. That nuisance is most apparent in connection with the homeless in SF, who now are a serious problem that the vigorous application of a few nightsticks 30 years ago would have precluded.

  25. warbaby Says:

    Well, we can be pretty sure they’re not going to breed.

  26. Occam's Beard Says:

    Mitosis? Parthenogenesis?

  27. warbaby Says:

    Pathogenesis, at least.

  28. Occam's Beard Says:

    Then how come Hallmark is coming out with Father’s Day cards directed to turkey basters? /g

  29. warbaby Says:


  30. warbaby Says:


    The withering scorn of the adolescent. I am wounded, I die…

  31. Occam's Beard Says:


    OK, uncharitable, but not untrue, and most definitely not unfunny! /g

  32. warbaby Says:



    Actually that was my dyke imitation from the ’80s.

  33. Uncle Jefe Says:

    Saturday I visited the SF Zoo.
    Gorgeous day, the kind that had thousands on Ocean Beach, sea flat as a pancake, except for the terrific waves which were being surfed by hundreds of dudes…
    I had to pay two zoo fees, though.
    Once when I entered the SF Zoo, and the other when I crossed the GG Bridge to enter the zoo that is San Francisco.
    I miss The City.

  34. warbaby Says:

    Gee, what happened to all the “ironic” comments about breeding and infestation?

    Down the memory hole, one assumes….

    [Note from neo-neocon: edited out. It was a troll.]

  35. warbaby Says:

    Thank you, Madam.

    You may similarly edit out my response re “the withering scorn of the adolescent”, if you like…

  36. Sergey Says:

    In Russia “People’s Temple” story had a great resonance. In the book of famous mathematician Igor Shafarevich it was used as illustration of the thesis that driving force behind socialist utopias was a will for death, an ethernal lull; and collective suicide is the ultimate manifestation of self-destructive tendencies of decadent, socialism-leaning society. See

  37. Shouting Thomas Says:

    You haven’t mentioned the role that sexual theater and coersion play in Jonestown. Jones was a master of sexual sadism.

    The homosexual cult that is now playing out its Nights of Rage in San Francisco is the reincarnation of Jonestown.

    I’m not a scientist, and I won’t pretend to that role.

    Sexual coersion is the overwhelming reality of life in the gay ghetto. Kids are indoctrinated in homosexuality by the school system and the media. We are now afflicted with the opposite dilemma than that of 50 years ago. Many of the kids out demonstrating on the street in SF are closeted heteros, coerced into homosexual behavior out of a desire to be accepted.

    Something very bizarre happens to people when they twist their sexual actions for public favor, and to please their peers.

    It’s the same thing that happened in Jonestown. There is something deeply fascist in the gay activist movement, and the reason is that sexual coersion and blackmail is the daily life of the homosexual ghetto.

  38. Sergey Says:

    “There is something deeply fascist in the gay activist movement”
    Very true, but the reason is not habits of homosexual ghetto. These habits are only manifestations of profound, inherent linkage between homosexuality, sadism and fascism. Remember who was Ernst Röhm, leader of Nazi brownshirts? He was homosexual, just as the the whole SA high ranks. The same picture we see in ancient Sparta, the first truly fascist state. Psychoanalysis established that early adolescence in males is the stage of development characterized by latent (repressed) homosexuality, sadism and deep need in everyday company of boys of the same age, with leaders requiring absolute loyality and often engaging in clashes with rival groups (gangs). This is universal, eternal psichological background on which different social pathologies develop: gangsta culture, young male unions in primordal tribal cultures, pagan cults, – and fascism is only the most recent reincarnation of this ancient pattern. Modern gay culture is based on arrested development of large segments of population, stuck at sadistic/homosexual stage, and is inherently destructive for healthy society.

  39. Sergey Says:

    AIDS and natural selection would take care of sodomites, of course, but it is our responsibity to prevent them from turning more population centres into Sdom, as already happened in San Francisco.

  40. blibity blabity Says:

    ‘Gee, what happened to all the “ironic” comments about breeding and infestation?’

    Can I clear this up, so I don’t get accused of trolling again?

    Flirting with eliminationism (ie, saying that liberals “breed” like subhuman animals and “infest” cities like vermin which, for hygienic and convenience purposes, can be casually exterminated without guilt) is ok.

    Flirting a little more heavily with eliminationism is not o-k.

    So, in the future, I’ll keep it to just light flirting with eliminationism. From now on, liberals aren’t cockroaches about whom something must be done, but instead just those who breed and infest.

    “If nuclear terrorist attack in American soil is inevitable, let us pray and hope, at least, that will take place where most of sodomites are concentrated.”

    Is this flirting or heavily flirting? I can’t really be sure. I just wish someone would rid me of this troublesome priest!

    [to blibity from neo-neocon: As you can see, I have given sergey a warning about that comment and deleted it. Sergey has a track record here of offering a great many interesting and thoughtful comments. You do not. I still consider you a troll. Especially because you come back with a different IP number and a fake email each time. You are banned.]

  41. Occam's Beard Says:

    Sergey, I had a related thought re Hollywood. So far Islamic terrorists have attacked (or attempted to attack) symbols/ centers of American economic, military, and political power. What’s left?

    American cultural power, namely Hollywood. In addition to being full of Jews and homosexuals, two of their favorite groups, it also disseminates images of what Muslims (and others!) view as a licentious and dissolute lifestyle.

    And given that Islamic terrorists want to make a splash, nailing a few actors and actresses at the Academy Awards would be tough to beat.

    I often wonder whether Hollywood denizens who have adamantly opposed Bush and the War on Terror have ever reflected on this.

  42. Occam's Beard Says:

    Sorry, that should have read “a few hundred actors and actresses.”

  43. neo-neocon Says:

    sergey: I think you seriously misunderstand the motivations and lives of most gay people. Yes, there are militant factions who do not mind trying to force things like gay marriage on people. Yes, there are some gays who are predators on the young.

    But the vast majority just want to live their lives as good citizens in relative normalcy.

    Also, to say that AIDS and natural selection would take care of sodomites is incorrect, as well as morally abhorrent, in my opinion. You are a geneticist, I believe? You must know that homosexuality is (like so many traits) a mixture of nature/nurture (my recollection is that the best evidence indicates it’s about 50/50 genetics/environment). But the important part in terms of “natural selection” is that, even if you were correct that there was some die-off of homosexuals based on natural selection, the trait is passed genetically by heterosexual parents and therefore would not be eliminated.

    I have edited out some of your most offensive comments, the ones that seem to indicate a desire to have gay people die.

    You contribute a great many interesting and informative comments to this blog, so I do not want to ban you. But I don’t want to become a forum for the spread of that sort of hatred, so I’m asking you to stop those sort of remarks here.

  44. newton Says:

    Thirty years after Jonestown (I was five when it happened), some people just don’t learn…

  45. Artfldgr Says:

    “drink the Kool Aid” derives from that fact.

    This is not the derivation… WAY before that event, and probably what inspired THEM to use kool aid, was this:

    The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is a work of literary journalism by Tom Wolfe, published in 1968. Using techniques from the genre of hysterical realism and pioneering new journalism, he tells the story of Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters as they drive across the country in a DayGlo painted school bus dubbed “Furthur,” reaching what they considered to be personal and collective revelations through the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. It covers their cross country road trip, as well as the Acid Tests, early performances by The Grateful Dead, and Kesey’s exile to Mexico. Wolfe is primarily concerned not with narrative, but with relating the Pranksters’ intellectual and quasi-religious experiences.

  46. Artfldgr Says:

    The first relevant lesson to be learned is the danger of blindly following a charismatic leader. Jones became more deranged later on,

    This is common… since only negative power can be felt. So when such people get power, they push the limits over time to see how far they can go. So over time they get more outrageous.

    It also has to do a bit with sociopathy and sadism. That to feel power, one has to hurt another while that other is helpless to respond, protect, or fight back effectively. If you understand this, you understand the most sadistic minds and why they have to do what they do. to do something nice, will engender cooperation, and that is not power to them.

    Hence “keeping it real” and Normans work, in which the only real honesty is negatives. He basically takes a thing that maslow discusses from his motivation book in which he points out that these rare (REAL) self actuated people note that a lot of the things we like are things that cover up honesty. When people leave a party and everyone said they had a good time. the host learns nothing. but if someone complains, that is a form of honesty. Taken to the absurd levels of the Frankfurt school people, the only form of honesty is when we are complaining. Hence the violence that is “keeping it real”.

    Jim Jones knew he had power once he could order people to die, and no one would stop him.

    If he lived, he would never have been able to top that rush, so to him, he went out on a high note.

    Jones required that people give over their lives and their assets when they became followers—a danger sign.

    I would agree… but will socialists realize that that’s exactly what socialism asks of them? along with religious furvor of belief? And other things?

    Wait till they read farther and find out jim jones connection to socialism and communism.

    The first is that as Jones became increasingly paranoid, he regularly harangued his followers that they would be under attack soon, either from the CIA or the Guyanese authorities
    Russia blames the US… chavez blames the us…
    Russian soviets blamed enemies of the state… Obama, will blame the racism that runs silent under the surface, religioun, etc.

    he had many rehearsals for the killings, which had the effect of getting people used to what would be happening and more ready to accept it, as well as more doubtful when the real thing began to happen that it actually was the real thing; maybe it was another rehearsal?

    So like the US government putting police to check your bags… putting military on the streets… and so forth for years… despite posse comitatus… NORMALIZED (a term invented by stalin) the abnormal through familiarity.

    Maybe that’s why 1-2% of the population is gay, but how much television reflects that lifestyle? Maybe so many movies about euthanasia are for what? and how about the new REAL sadism horror movies which unfreeze, move, and refreeze people to become acclimated (normalized) to sadism as entertainment, and common behavior.

    Jim Jones is a cruder smaller model of what we have been subjected to.

    but my recollection is that they were encouraged to inform on each other if they

    They took many pages out of the NKVD playbook…. And others too… loyalty games, oaths, tests, love bombing, trials, confessions, etc..

    There is a lot known about this… cults are basically people who have read the state stuff and apply them in microcosm. But you can look at the soviet union, and you can see that all the psychological hooks are there… or look at the moonies, or other groups… they do a lot of the same things.

    Withdrawal of the group is a VERY important thing. our teachers do it to the kids and parents while dialoguing to consensus. Remember the stuff I posted on this? where the meeting is held, then the meeting is called while people work on the outliers? Well, telling the parents that everyone has come around other than them is what techniuque?

    Feminists telling men that because they don’t like the negative politics and such, that they are women haters, and that they don’t get laid… etc. when women show up to the meetings they are love bombed.. and gain a new more loving family than their own… they are introduced to icons… so they seem to be important to the group… given little projects to do to give purpose… tends towards vegetarianism and vegan since that makes one more suggestible. If they turn or not follow the leaders they become apostates. They have their own ideology, rather than free thinking. They are a collective, rather than an association of individuals. Everything is under their umbrella even if contradictory.

    You can say the same thing as to any cult or political religion.

    Jones made some of his close confederates pretend to be be discontented,

    That’s directly out of soviet play book. They did this in Afghanistan during that war, and there were a lot of other times too. in Afghanistan, they would create a false hero of the underground. They will let that person have great success killing their own people. then after time, when the enemies organization is leaning on it, they then exterminate them all in a failed thing.

    The teachers who went out with the students in tianeman were this form too. they are still alive, but the students revealed themselves.

    Lenin did this by loostening up the economy, making it look like it was going to go capitalist. That got the roaches in the light, and allowed them to know who was that way… mao did the same thing…
    “let a thousand petals blossom and a thousand schools of seduction contend”

    When you are an end justifies the means system, morally reprehensible actions become moral goods. Just as theft is converted to a social good, such trickery, lying, cheating, and such become moral goods.

    Which is why mitsu and others don’t get the fact that the game changed underneath them.

  47. Artfldgr Says:

    The entire system encouraged extreme distrust of sharing any complaints with or confiding in anyone. Therefore no mass rebellion or escape plans could be hatched. A resident never knew who was telling the truth, or who would go straight to Jones with the news. Even those who hated Jones and Jonestown had to wrestle with their consciences about whether to report on a friend; the consequences for failure to do so could be dire.
    I doubt that even the KGB or the Stasi were quite as able to control all aspects of their subjects’ personal lives as Jones was. I mention the latter two organizations because it is not insignificant that Jim Jones was a Socialist/Communist, who greatly admired Cuba and the USSR. This little fact had escaped my memory as well, but it takes on a greater significance in retrospect. It is, quite simply, no accident.

    The KGB and STASI were able to control all aspects of the subject’s lives…

    That’s the beauty of fear… it stays and maintains things while nothing is there.

    The new apartments that Stalin had build had two entrances to them. and two separate hallways to them. a front one, like any normal apartment… and a back one… in which kgb could enter any apartment any time from their own private hallway and private door.

    I would read up on that area… because its this failure of imagination that creates a situation where the evil people are only as evil as you can imagine, when in truth, they are as evil as THEY can imagine.

    The Soviet security, or political, police had a long history, dating back to the prerevolutionary, tsarist period. Although the tsarist political police was ruthless and unscrupulous, the police organs established by Vladimir I. Lenin and the Bolsheviks (see Glossary) in 1917, known as the Vecheka (see Glossary), far surpassed their predecessors in terms of terror and violence. The Bolsheviks allowed the Vecheka almost unrestricted powers to persecute those who were perceived as “class enemies.”


    Vecheka (Vserossiiskaia chrezvychainaia komissiia po bor’be s kontrrevoliutsiei i sabotazhem–VChK)
    All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counterrevolution and Sabotage. The political police created by the Bolsheviks (q.v.) in 1917; supposed to be dissolved when the new regime, under Lenin, had defeated its enemies and secured its power. But the Vecheka, also known as the Cheka, continued until 1922, becoming the leading instrument of terror and oppression as well as the predecessor of other secret police organizations.

    If you want to read and know a lot more… take the time to read this: that will get you up to a round about summary from origin, to modern era.

    Since you don’t know this area… it will be a real eye opener…
    And a hint of what is to come in some form, which is already here and we don’t notice it.

    In carrying out its repressive-punitive actions, the VCheKa actively resorted to the use of hostages, a modus operandi introduced by an order issued by People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs RSFSR Hryhorii Petrovsky in March 1918. There also existed a system of “respondents,” whereby individuals selected from the general population were obliged to inform the Bolshevik organs about links between the local population and those who opposed the Communists and about preparations of any kind of opposition to the regime. If the “respondents” failed to report, they were subjected to the same repressions that were meted out to hostages. In fact, terrorist actions directed against peasants and Ukrainian insurgents constituted the principal actions of the Chekists in 1920-1922 in Ukraine.

    So basically, you found victims or you became the victim.

    There were also different stores depending on class… so people would do things to get a different little book to get things from. And upper people would sometimes share their books to manipulate (and some for kindness).

    It was like a machine that constantly needed meat to grind up… the people shoveling in other people were good enough meat if the shoveling stopped or slowed down. after all, there were dams and bridges and raods to build… and since they were on subsistence rations, they needed a constant new supply.

    [read “dear god I wanted to live” by Ruta U… a Latvian anne frank of sorts, but since not jewish, no one in the west really cares]

    …Dzerzhinsky perceived the essence of his ‘terror’ as:
    “Proletarian coercion in all its forms, beginning with executions, is a method of delivering a communist man out of the material of a capitalist epoch.”

    The only thing that limits them is whether things work or not… the only reason they don’t torture as much as before is that it didn’t work as well. but be sure, if anyone thought (as putin) that stalin had it right, there really is nothing at all stopping the change from happening. but they don’t need it. the populations most capataistic, individualistic and others were exterminated… (same with the germans as those are the people that fought the war).

    Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin advised the French revolutionaries when seizing power to ‘awaken the devil in the popular masses’ and ‘unleash the most ugly of passions’… This is exactly the method Dzerzhinsky applied in 1917.

    And this is what they are applying today… proposition 8 anyone?

    Dzerzhinsky burst open the society’s underworld, channeling into the VCheka an army of pathological killers and criminal elements. He was perfectly aware of the terrible force of his army. However, anxious to instill immediate communism by means of firing squads, already in 1918 Dzerzhinsky swiftly spread out a bloody web of extraordinary commissions all across the vast expanses of Russia: these were Gubernia, uyezd, city, village, transport, frontline, factory commissions, augmented by so-called ‘military-revolutionary tribunals’, ‘special departments’, ‘extraordinary headquarters’, ‘punitive detachments’.
    From the social basement, broken open by an ‘armed psychopath’, a vast stream of sadistical morons filed into the ranks of these commissions, ready material for criminal psychologist and psychopathologist. With their help, Dzerzhinsky turned Russia into a basement of the VCheka…

    And since I am LATVIAN… my history included Dzerzhinsky’s two principal colleagues, yakov peters, and martin latsis (aka martin Sudrabs),.
    “To unleash merciless red terror against all families of rebellious peasant folk, arresting everyone over 18 years of age, regardless of sex, and if the revolt continues – execute them, as hostages; imposing extraordinary contributions on the villages, threatening those who do not pay up promptly with confiscation of land and property.” – peters
    Yakov Peters has his historical quotes: “Any revolutionary knows that a revolution is not carried out in silk gloves.”
    “Any attempt of the counter-revolution to lift up its head shall encounter such violence, that everything referred to as ‘red terror’ shall pale in comparison.”

    After stalin starved 7 million people of one country in one winter, it was very hard not to be afraid and be like the people in jones town.

    Its why jim copied stalin…. It works…

    Stalin only failed because of EXTERNAL FORCES… so once the US is complete, there are no more external forces of limitation.

    This lumpen-proletarian, a top terror official, like Peters, emerged from the bolshevist underground. When joining the VCheka in 1917 Latsis, simultaneously becoming ‘a comrade of the Minister of Internal Affairs’, thus summed up his state tasks:
    “To turn everything upside down!”
    He formulated the philosophy of his terror quite simply:
    “The VCheka is the dirty work of the revolution. It’s a game of heads… If the work goes as planned, the heads of the counter-revolutionaries shall roll, but I make few mistakes, we might lose our own heads… All the customary norms of war, put down in various conventions, according to which prisoners are not executed, etc. are hilarious: the law of civil war demands that you slaughter all those wounded in action against you.”

    That last sentence is why those who know history are a bit unsettled.

    Following this law, Martin Latsis bathed Russia and Ukraine in blood.
    “VCheka isn’t a court, a tribunal or investigative commission,” he said. “It is a military body, acting along the inner front. It does not serve to judge the enemy, but strikes it down…Does not display charity, but decimates each one… Do not seek to find proof during the investigation that the accused acted in word and deed against the Soviet power. The first question you should pose is: what class does he belong to, what is his education, upbringing, origins and profession. It is these questions that should determine the fate of the accused. There lies the essence of red terror.

    And ya got to love how the socialists think…

    Why bother with these questions regarding origins and education. I shall just walk into their kitchen and look into the pot: if there is meat there – he is an enemy of the people! To be stood before a firing squad!”

  48. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr: Read the link on the words “drink the Kool Aid.”

  49. Hyman Rosen Says:

    “Forcing gay marriage on people” is exactly like “forcing interracial marriage on people” or, for that matter, like “forcing gun ownership on people”. Marriage equality should be established because there are substantial numbers of people who want to marry others of the same gender and there is no earthly reason why they should be prevented from doing so, except for baseless hatred. Neo, look at your comments to Sergey’s post. Can you honestly say that if people like that were your real-life associates, you would feel comfortable having it be known? Does the fact that such people are enthusiastic commenters on your blog tell you anything about the nature of your own views? Without intending any snark, I really do think it may be time for another change of mind, as difficult as that might be.

  50. Occam's Beard Says:

    We have marital equality now. Anyone can marry a person of the opposite sex. It’s just that exercising that right is not to the taste of some. Their choice.

    I don’t have any tattoos. Does that mean I’m deprived of my right to get them? Of course not. I choose not to exercise my right to get them, because it’s not to my taste. Exactly the same situation.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    Hyman Rosen: Your gay marriage analogy is absurd. Personally, it doesn’t bother me if gay people gain the right to get married, but I can certainly see why it outrages other people who nevertheless are not haters of gay people. Marriage has always, in every single society of which I know, been between a man and a woman. There is no self-evident right that people of the same sex should be able to marry. Liberty does not stand and fall on such a right—not even remotely.

    And have you taken a look around at most blogs on the other side? The amount of hate there is almost inexhaustible. The fact that some people here say things that offend me is not a surprise. It will always happen, no matter what group one allies with. I see far far more hatred among the group I left as compared with the one I am supposedly part of today. I do not consider that I march in lockstep with any group, however. I think for myself.

  52. Hyman Rosen Says:

    Forms of same-sex marriage existed in many ancient societies, assuming one can believe Wikipedia on the matter. Unsurprisingly, it was the Christians who started banning it.

    If you find my analogy absurd, the problem is yours. In my lifetime, interracial marriage was illegal in over twenty states. I expect that there were many who claimed not to hate black people personally, but who could understand why others would be outraged by interracial marriage. And it wasn’t as if black people couldn’t get married at all, so why should they complain?

    Sigh. I expect it’s hopeless. Maybe it’s the generational thing. But I’m incredulous that you can’t see something so plain.

  53. neo-neocon Says:

    Rosen: If you read that Wiki entry you linked, you will see that “forms” of marriage is not the same as marriage. The article describes “unions”—much more like civil unions in this country—or temporary, quasi-marriages.

    In addition, the Native American customs of some tribes allowed a form of marriage between a man who defined himself as heterosexual, and another man who was more like a transvestite or transsexual in that he dressed in woman’s clothing and mostly took on woman’s roles. It was not defined as a man/man marriage by the society.

    Just because some people were outraged at marriage between the races, and because other people could “understand” that outrage, this does not make your analogy any less absurd. Peoples’ reactions and feelings about interracial marriages and gay marriages do not mean the two types of marriage can be equated.

  54. Hyman Rosen Says:

    Yes, you keep asserting that the two are not the same. But an assertion isn’t an argument. To me, at is axiomatic that in a country founded on the principles of individual liberty, you do not prevent people from doing things which make them happy and which do no harm to anyone else. This blog pretends to like freedom and individualism, so I really don’t understand this prejudice against gays. Do you think they’re icky or something?

  55. sergey Says:

    I can see no justifiable reason for anybody to inform public about his strange sexual habits: private must stay private. I also see nothing discriminatory in a police “do not ask, do not tell”: it is perfectly tolerant for me, ask something more is over the top, an arrogance. And every minority – ethnic, sexual, religious – must obey the law of the land and have a respect to the majority culture, accomodate to it and do not require that laws and customs of majority were changed to indulge their peculiar traditions or wishes.

  56. sergey Says:

    Hyman, what you call prejudice is nothing of the sort. This is a normal, almost phisiological reaction of a normal individial, genetically ingrained to promote procreation, a component of a normal sexual instinct. Culture only reinforces this natural revulsion for sexual perversion, just as in case of pedophilia, incest, zoophilia, necrophilia and so on. Actually, it was not Christianity, but Judaism which outlawed sexual perversions; Christianity only follow the suit. In modern society we understand the difference between sin and crime and do not attempt to criminalize all sins: most of divine commandments are not enforceable. But it does not mean that can not tell vices from virtues.

  57. Wendy J. Duncan Says:

    My husband and I were in a Bible-based cult and left approximately eight years ago. We now have a cult awareness and support ministry and give presentations to churches, schools, etc, as well as provide individual counseling, and support groups for ex-cultists.

    One of our powerpoint slides focuses on Jim Jones and Jonestown. What is interesting is that we now have an entire generation who don’t remember Jonestown.

    A sign at Jonestown by Santanya stated, “Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.”

    Thank you for reminding your readers about Jonestown. May we never forget.

    Wendy J. Duncan
    Author: I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult

  58. neo-neocon Says:

    Hyman Rosen: You have now officially crossed into troll territory. I have said that I have no problem whatsoever with gay marriage. And yet you come back accusing me of prejudice against gays. You are either stupid, or willfully ignoring what I’m saying to make a point.

    I am not a strict libertarian, in case you haven’t noticed, although I do have a devotion to individual liberty in general. And, I repeat, although I personally would not vote to ban gay marriage, I think that the public policy argument that some make against gay marriage has some validity and is not just prejudice (although in some cases its proponents are in fact prejudiced, of course).

    The state has an interest in regulating marriage in a reasonable manner. That is quite different from the older laws against homosexual behavior itself, which banned same sex sexual activities between consenting adults (private activities).

  59. Hyman Rosen Says:

    Look at what Sergey is saying – he quite literally wants to disallow gay marriage because he thinks gay sex is icky. What is the reasonable interest that a state has in disallowing same-sex marriage? I still haven’t seen an answer why it’s any different than interracial marriage.

    Procreation arguments are sublimely ridiculous. We do not condition heterosexual marriage on the ability or willingness to procreate. Biblical arguments are even more so. Aside from the fact that our constitution forbids the establishment of official religions, we do not permit polygamy, we do not have husbands taking their wives’ servants as concubines when the wives are infertile, and we don’t practice Levirate marriage. (And what is it with Christians and divorce, anyway? It’s perfectly fine with the old testament.)

    For a long time, Jews were not allowed to own property in England. I expect people found the thought of Christ-killers owning land near Christians to be unpalatable as well, and the state had an interest in not having its population weirded out. We look back on such notions with disdain, and when the current generation passes, the same will be true for laws against gay marriage.

  60. Ymarsakar Says:

    Gay activists are not the same as human rights. Hyman tries to cover that little detail up, but didn’t do a very good job.

    WHen gay activists sabotage the gay rights movement and alienate gay sfrom the mainstream and the mainstream from gays, Hyman wants to make believe to us that this harms nobody and makes gays happy.

  61. Ymarsakar Says:

    The entire system encouraged extreme distrust of sharing any complaints with or confiding in anyone. Therefore no mass rebellion or escape plans could be hatched. A resident never knew who was telling the truth, or who would go straight to Jones with the news. Even those who hated Jones and Jonestown had to wrestle with their consciences about whether to report on a friend; the consequences for failure to do so could be dire.

    Disinformation is very nice at destroying insurgencies. Never know what is true or not. Would work on the media, if Bush had ever used it. Illegal wiretapping and breaking in by Nixon is the total opposite of disinformation. You want the information to be solicited by the target, without you having to do anything active, like surveillaince.

    Make them do the illegal work out of desperation, never you.

    This is the next lesson: intelligence has nothing to do with it. If these people were susceptible (and they were), it was not because they were not smart.

    Propaganda affects everybody; nobody is immune. However, propaganda does not effect everybody equally, for certain propaganda techniques or effects, like doublethink, actually works better if you are MORE intelligent than average.

    It was because they were insufficiently skeptical of a charismatic demagogue, and of the limits of idealism.

    THey lacked wisdom: which is not sometihng you are born with.

  62. DUH Says:

    “Gay activists are not the same as human rights.”

    I agree. Gay activists are people. Human rights are ideas. Ideas are not people. You are smart!

  63. Meep Says:

    Woops, put this under the wrong thread…

    Hyman Rosen has a pretty good point. What is the difference between denying consenting gay adults the right to marry freely the person they love most in the world and denying consenting black adults the right to marry freely the person they love the most?

    A gay person is, of course, free to enter into a heterosexual marriage, and a black person is, of course, free to enter into a marriage with another black person. What does this fact have anything to do with using the force of the state to prevent these people form marrying outside these arbitrarily defined groups?

    Oh, and while most marriages have been between one man and one woman, the vast majority of human societies defined marriage as polygamous. That is, while polygamy was for practical purposes limited to the wealthy, there were no legal or other social barriers to it. “Traditional” marriage as practiced now in this country is anything but traditional. It not only goes against most of human history, in which marriage could easily be between one man and several women, but has also overturned most other marriage traditions. The very fact that women entering into marriage do not become the property of their husbands underlines the massive changes the institution of marriage has undergone in recent decades; it’s fair to say that “traditional” marriage is almost nothing like marriage as practiced by most people for most of human history. It’s like calling the nuclear family a “traditional family,” when the nuclear family is an incredibly recent invention at total odds to the extended family structure that most humans throughout history experienced. Claims to “traditional marriage” are almost always ahistorical and anachronistic.

  64. neo-neocon Says:

    Meep: There are traditions, and then there are basic traditions. People who are against gay marriage (and, as I’ve now said many times, I am not one of them: I have no problem with gay marriage) point to the fact that the man/woman part of marriage is essential rather than tangential to the institution.

    The same can certainly not be said of same-race marriages. There is nothing essential about the idea that a person must marry within one’s race. Miscegenation (the old legal term for intermarriage between the races) does not challenge or flout any essential quality of marriage.

    As for polygamy, you are quite correct that it is legal (and in fact preferred) in many parts of the world. However, in our society it is illegal for public policy reasons. Just because something is a custom in other parts of the world does not mean that our part of the world cannot decide it is something we do not want to legalize. Cultural relativism is not always a good thing. I have no problem, by the way, with polygamy continuing to be illegal in this country, even though it infringes on the liberty of people who want to have more than one spouse.

    As far as the limits of cultural relativism are concerned, I offer the following famous (perhaps apocryphal?) story about the British in India:

    In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of “suttee” – the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

    “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

  65. Meep Says:

    “People who are against gay marriage…point to the fact that the man/woman part of marriage is essential rather than tangential to the institution.”

    “There is nothing essential about the idea that a person must marry within one’s race.”

    Do you see the problem here?

    Some people assert that heterosexuality is essential to marriage. Ok, fantastic! But why? Why is sex, and not race (as plenty of people once thought), an essential component of marriage? You don’t seem to have a very good answer.

    “Miscegenation…does not challenge or flout any essential quality of marriage.”

    So why were mixed race marriages prohibited by the full force of state power for years and years and years? They people doing the enforcing certainly thought that race was an essential component of marriage, yet somewhere along the way, people stopped thinking this way! Was race once fundamental to marriage and then stopped being so, or was it never fundamental to marriage? If this one thing that once seemed fundamental was never really fundamental, what else might we be wrong about?

    So, clearly, this belief was founded on racism, not some fundamental truth of marriage. Why are prohibitions on same-sex marriage any different? I want to hear your opinion about this, not hear you recycle the same assertion (and nothing more) that sex is essential but race is not.

    “Just because something is a custom in other parts of the world does not mean that our part of the world cannot decide it is something we do not want to legalize.”

    Blah blah blah, blah blah blah-hah-blah. Cultural relativism has absolutely zero to do with anything I said. You’re talking at an angle to my argument.

    Let me try again. People (like “the they” you cite) say: one man, one woman is fundamental to marriage. Yet, for most of human existence, this wasn’t true. In some places in the world now, and for thousands and thousands of years of human history, the way most humans experienced marriage qua institution was: one man, as many women as he could afford. Citing the tradition of marriage to argue against same-sex marriage, then, is a silly exercise. If people wanted to enforce “traditional” marriage, marriage qua institution for most humans throughout most of history, then they’d have to enforce the right to polygamy and property status for women. They don’t really want this; they want an anachronistic, imaginary “traditional marriage” that only existed for a very brief time (a few decades) in a few places.

    Or, another way of putting it: marriage as it existed in the past and marriage as it exists now are so radically different already (because of the very modern concepts of equality in marriage and marriage as something into which consenting adults enter into for love) that they should have different names. Let’s call “traditional marriage” something else; let’s call it “it can’t be rape if you’re married to the woman into whom you forcibly inserted your penis,” after one of its fundamental components.

    So, your (or “their”) argument boils down to:

    The full force of the state should be utilized to prevent consenting gay adults from freely entering into marriage with the people they love because heterosexuality was a fundamental component of “it can’t be rape if you’re married to the woman into whom you forcibly inserted your penis.”

    So if we can’t make arguments to marriage as it existed in the past, how can we determine what marriage’s fundamental, essential characteristics are beyond what we want them to be?

  66. neo-neocon Says:

    Meep: As I said before, I have no dog in this race, I’m trying to explain to you a position that I don’t hold myself and which isn’t of great interest to me. Therefore this is going to be my last attempt to explain it to you.

    Despite all the variations on marriage rules all over the world, it doesn’t mean we can make no meaningful statements about its commonalities. A constant was that it involved a man/woman, or man/women (or, in rare cases, men/woman) getting together in some ritual/legal/societal manner for activities that usually included, but were not limited to: sex, procreation, becoming an economic unit, cohabitation. All of these were not required for every couple who got married, or in every culture. Unmarried people could engage in some or all of these activities without getting married, sometimes without society’s condemnation and sometimes with society’s condemnation.

    Sometimes it was more than one woman to each man. Much much less commonly it was more than one man to each woman. But the essential ingredients historically speaking, and right up to the present moment, in virtually all cultures and times, was a man-woman union with some sort of official (whether religious, ritual, or legal) stamp. The fact that these things have virtually always been considered part of marriage around the world is a historic fact, and that’s why they are essential elements. It’s not some arbitrary thing.

    Race is not an essential element of marriage in any analogous way. Marriage between races in this country was banned because people were against it and against equality of the races; there may have been some economic reasons as well (see this).

    The fact that two things are banned, however, does not make them analogous. Nor are the reasons for the banning the same. This is not to say that some people who are against gay marriage are not also guilty of hatred of gays. But many of them do not have this motivation.

    By the way, a great many black people are against gay marriage, and do not buy the equation that the two issues are similar.

  67. sergey Says:

    “human rights” and “equality” memes were used in USA and Europe for several decades now to normalize any anomaly, societal and medical pathology existing in the world. Every fringe, dysfunctional subhuman scum now demands from others respect and recognition. Examples are really comical: a company advertized that it propose jobs for smart, ambitious and industrial contenders was sued by a human rights group for discrimination aganst lazy, stupid and unpretentious. Yesterday EU commission on mental health recomended to exclude fetishism and sado-masochism from the list of sexual pathologies and recognize them as “alternative lifestyles”. Barely literate schoolchildren “have a right” to get school-leaving certificate in order not to stigmatize them, and so on. Dumping down of all standards of achivement and public decency is now a vogue of progressive establishment worldwide, and it leads us to a really bad place to live in. That is why when I hear about a some newly invented human right, I remember Herman Herring’s quote: “When I hear about culture, I reach for my Lugger”. I have not a Lugger (a hand gun), but methaphorically I do the same.

  68. Ymarsakar Says:

    I agree. Gay activists are people. Human rights are ideas. Ideas are not people. You are smart!

    You need a remedial class in logic for it also means that gay activists aren’t working for human rights, period. Nice go with the strawman, low guy on the academic totem pole.

  69. waltj Says:

    Meep: What history are you talking about? Not the history of the West since the Roman Republic, if not earlier, where one man-one woman marriage was the only type recognized under law. Of course, men who could afford them had concubines, as they have always had, but only one wife. In many European “barbarian” areas as well, monogamy was the preferred family structure. Homosexual relationships were certainly not unknown, but nobody called this “marriage” at that time. Christianity–monogamous from the start, derived as it was from the Judaism of the day–overlaid itself quite comfortably on this already-existing framework.

    The history of what used to be called the “Orient”, basically encompassing anything east of Constantinople (i.e., Istanbul), is of course far different, with Muslims, Chinese, Thais, Javanese, Hindus, and others having multiple wives who were legally recognized as such. Culturally-distinct Japan went its own way, as the one man-one woman formula has been adhered to since ancient times, but most of Asia–and Africa as well–was polygamous. Much of both remain so today, and not only among Muslims. Many are the Chinese and Thai men with “minor” wives, the term describing not their age, but their status, which provides for some rights in terms of support and inheritance, but places them behind “primary wives” and their children.

    The miscegenation laws you refer to are of relatively recent vintage, historically-speaking. They were essentially unknown in Europe, and were adopted in this country, for the most part, after the Civil War. Not all states enacted them, either. By contrast, Spain and Portugal–Western nations both– encouraged intermarriage in their American colonies. That’s a big part of the reason why many Latin American countries are highly interracial (although it is also true that south of the border, a higher percentage of European blood usually equates to higher status).

    Historically-speaking, the purpose of marriage is NOT to enable two people who love each other to cohabit. The “love marriage” is a recent, and very middle-class, innovation. Prior to the “modern age”, beginning more or less with the Renaissance, serfs and impoverished commoners often did not bother marriage at all. There was seldom any significant property to be inherited, and the “common law” would recognize a couple as married anyhow if they lived together for a prescribed length of time. Among the nobility and wealthy commoners, marriage was regarded as too important to be left to the whims of infatuated youngsters. Therefore, marriages were arranged that would unite, for example, wealthy but “nouveau riche” families with old, established ones, or down-at-the-heels but high-ranking nobles with lower-ranked but more successful ones. In other words, more of an exercise in dynastic and commercial politics than anything to do with love. But marriage also does more than this. It provides a measure of security for women and children (even when regarded as “property”, they were the husband’s property, and couldn’t be taken from him without due process. As imperfect, and unacceptable, to our modern thinking as this is, it is arguably better than being without any legal protection or status at all). Marriage also provides for a clear line of inheritance, not so much from within the family, but from outside interlopers. This provides for posterity, encourages stability, and gets men (mostly) to think about the future. Does gay marriage serve either of these historical purposes? Convince me.

  70. Lester Hunt Says:

    Neo-neo: This is one of the best things I have seen on the Jonestown horrors. Thanks!

  71. marymcl Says:

    My problem with gay marriage is the way its proponents browbeat their way into any and every conversation as if the fate of the universe depended on everyone hearing what they have to say and agreeing to it RIGHT NOW. As I recall, this is where Andrew Sullivan fell into the void.

    The subject was Jonestown, and I highly recommend to all the book “Journey to Nowhere” by the late Shiva Naipaul (brother to V.S.). It was published in 1981 and actually came out a year earlier in Britain with the title “Black and White”. It may be out of print – I know it was for a long time.

    Naipul went to Jonestown just after the massacre, and spent a year in the US researching the People’s Temple, including interviews with survivors, defectors, and political associates of Jim Jones. He makes a good argument that there was far more to the rise and fall of the People’s Temple than the usual stuff that’s brought up about cults and charisma and mind control. Mainly it’s a book about ideas and their consequences in the real world. It’s partly about California and the flotsam of the 60’s, but its also the only book I know of that talks about the Guyanese aspects of the story. Naipaul wrote eloquently, here and elsewhere, that the then-emerging Third World was as much a state of mind as anything else. He died at 40 in 1985. Many times since 9/11 I’ve wished his voice was still with us.

    (A slightly interesting aside – one of his contentions about the political and social legacy of the 60’s is that “aggressive introversions” (namely feminism, environmentalism and – ahem – gay rights) climbed onto the coattails of the civil rights movement, co-opting its language and premises and ultimately trampling it underfoot.)

  72. Hyman Rosen Says:

    In fact, one of the strongest reasons for gay marriage is exactly to provide protection for inheritance from outside interlopers. In many cases, when one partner of a gay couple dies or is seriously ill, inheritance and medical decisions can be very difficult, especially when there are members of the deceased family who were hostile to the union.

  73. Barbara Says:

    I haven’t read all the gay marriage posts completely, but I would still like to add a comment. I thought of this the other day: Why is this society so concerned about gay marriage, but so unconcerned about polygamy as practiced in such cults as FLDS? Isn’t the practice of polygamy arguably much more damaging to both girls (who are married off at a young age, often before 16) and boys (who are booted out of the cult at a young age) than gay marriage of two consenting adults? If marriage is “defined as between one man and one woman,” why aren’t all the anti-gay marriage people out there on the front lines trying to close down these polygamous cults?

    Just curious.

    Oh, and a great post about Jonestown, btw. I’m reading Seductive Poison now; it’s great, as you say.

  74. Thom Says:

    Barbara, why are gay marriage supporters so against civil unions that would have all the legal ramifications as marriage? Doesn’t the idea of marriage come from the Bible, I would think all the ‘progressives’ would empty their stomach’s contents at that term, not try to use it. I think they like to shove their ideals in conservatives’ faces, not actually provide the same benefits to gays. Sort of like progressives calling Bush Bushitler, but a while back a CNN ‘reporter’ called a reference of Obama to Hitler offensive. Also calling Bush a chimp but being ‘repulsed’ when someone call Michele Obama the same. You tell me, where do progressives get their morals and standards, seems you might have a bargain find, double standards.

  75. Celtic Tattoos For Men Says:

    Celtic Tattoos For Men…

    […]neo-neocon » Blog Archive » Jonestown reflections: 30 years later[…]…

  76. Lilleth Says:

    It is so interesting to read this blog post now, reading the highlighted “lessons”, then go through some of the comments of drinking the Obama Kool-Aiid, just after the election of a real life demagogue who has persuaded millions of Americans to drink the Kool-Aid again… Donald Trump.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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